Theater director wins piracy suit over internationally renowned musical

By Bao Ha   March 20, 2019 | 09:14 pm GMT+7
Theater director wins piracy suit over internationally renowned musical
In June 2017, Tu released his musical Back Then, which he claimed was Vietnam’s first

A court has ruled that award-winning water stage musical Tinh Hoa Bac Bo (The Quintessence of Tonkin) was plagiarized from another play.

The Hanoi City People’s Court handed the verdict Wednesday after renowned theater director Viet Tu filed a suit against entertainment company Tuan Chau Hanoi JSC (TCHN), the producer of The Quintessence of Tonkin, saying it had plagiarized many elements from Ngay Xua (Back Then), a musical play also produced by TCHN but orchestrated by him four months earlier. 

Tu is also an event organizer, well known for major events such as the opening and closing ceremonies of the 22nd Southeast Asian Games in 2003, and an ex-employee of TCHN.

The judicial panel said Tu had provided compelling evidence to show that The Quintessence of Tonkin had indeed taken several scenes from Back Then. There were many things in common between the two musicals like the concept, architecture, stage, costumes, props, and actors, it said.

The court also found that TCHN had used Back Then’s trailer to promote The Quintessence of Tonkin, and that the company’s rebuttals were far from convincing.

It ordered TCHN to pay VND660 million ($28,422) to the director, equivalent to 10 percent of ticket sales, the royalty, plus interest for late payment.

Because TCHN had invested "money and effort" into the play, the court ruled that it must own the copy right for Back Then, but that Tu is still the legal author of the works.

The Quintessence of Tonkin, an open-air water stage musical celebrating the heritage of Tonkin, an agricultural region in northern Vietnam, was released in October 2017.

Lauded by foreign media as a "world-class performance", the show has been a massive success, picking up the Gold Stevie Award in Media, Visual Communications & Entertainment given by the American Business Awards Organization.

In June 2017, Tu released his musical Back Then, which he claimed was Vietnam’s first "real-life performance", produced by TCHN. However, after only 10 showings, the show was abruptly cancelled. Representatives of TCHN explained the musical was axed because director Viet Tu was not able to "touch the hearts of the audience".

Not long after, in October 2017, TCHN released The Quintessence of Tonkin, which it also called "the first real-life performance" in Vietnam. The show went on to receive international attention and won several awards.  

 
 
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